Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for February, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day! Send a Yarny E-Card to Someone You Love!

February 14th, 2012

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It’s always nice to give something handmade to someone in your life, whether it’s for a holiday like Valentine’s Day or just because… Over the last few weeks, we’ve shared all kinds of quick, cozy, practical, and charming project ideas for this holiday here on the blog, in our newsletters, and at But for those of you who are looking for a last-minute way to show you care, why not send a free yarny e-card to someone in your life? Click here for our collection of FREE customizable e-cards and send one out now.

For those looking for free printable yarn-related cards to give out, click here.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of here at Lion Brand!

How to Make Amigurumi Cuter with Perfect Eye Placement

February 10th, 2012

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How to Make Amigurumi Cuter with Perfect Eye Placement
Adding eyes is a key step in finishing your new amigurumi, but where do you place them on your project’s face?Amigurumi tend to look best when their eyes are place near the middle of the face – if you measure the height of your projects head, try placing the eyes about 1/3 of that distance from the top of the head.For these examples, I used a set of safety eyes and crocheted the head portion of the Best Bunny pattern from with the Papaya shade of Baby Wool.  You can also use felt, buttons, or embroidery to give your amigurumi eyes.
Narrow Eyes Putting the eyes very close together can give your new friend a determined or even pouty expression. If you’re making a silly toy that you want to have beady eyes, this arrangement would be just right.
Wide Eyes Eyes that are very wide-set can give your project an almost lizard-like appearance, so if you’re making a cute reptile like Sssandy or Salvadore Snake, that would be the prefect way to arrange the eyes.
Eyes Forward Most amigurumi look extra cute and friendly when the eyes are wide set, but the distance between them is less than 1/3 the circumference of the head. You want them to be wide enough that they look very friendly, but close enough together so that you could imagine that they are looking at you.

For this example, I used a set of safety eyes and crocheted the head portion of the Best Bunny pattern from with the Papaya shade of Baby Wool.  You can also use felt, buttons, or embroidery to give your amigurumi eyes.

For more tips on making fun amigurumi friends, check out these posts:

For over 300 patterns for amigurumi and other handmade toys, click here (you may be asked to sign into

Have you been making, or longing to make amigurumi? Share your tips or questions in the comments below!

How To Choose the Best Yarn for Your Project; Understanding How Texture and Color Interact

February 9th, 2012

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When choosing the best yarn for a project, there are a few different factors that come into play.  You need to consider what you want the focus of your project to be; will it focus on stitch definition, color or texture?  For instance, if you’re working on a complicated lace stitch, you will probably work with a solid color yarn (preferably a lighter color), so your beautiful stitch work isn’t overlooked by a self striping or variegated effect of a yarn.  If you work with a bulkier or bouclé style yarn, you can whip up a fast project with a simple stitch that still looks amazing.  A heavily textured bouclé yarn hides stitches, so it’s great for an advanced beginner who wants to stick to basic patterns, but can handle navigating through the loops and bumps.  Below are some examples to demonstrate how the interaction of color and texture affect your final project.

Moon Rock Hat
Moon Rock Hat

Moon Pebble Hat
The pattern featured on the far left is the Moon Rock Hat, crocheted in Amazing; and the pattern to the right of it is the Moon Pebble Hat crocheted in Homespun.  Due to the color variegation of the Amazing yarn, the individual bobbles on this hat seem to stand out more because they’re different colors.  Since the Moon Pebble Hat is crocheted in one color of Homespun, your focus is solely on the hat itself, and the bobbles become more of a “feature”, not the main attraction.
Sunny Diagonal Blankie
Sunny Diagonal Blankie
Summery Diagonal Blanket
Summery Diagonal Blankie
When I think about how to make my simple stitch project look more than “simple”, self striping yarns are my yarn of choice.  I love how the diagonal stitch plus the self striping effect of the Nature’s Choice Organic gives this blanket a completely new look.  Since the Summery Diagonal Blankie is done in a solid color of Jamie, it isn’t as obvious that this pattern uses the same diagonal pattern; but it has more of a classic feel, and it won’t hide stitch mistakes (a side note for those who hate to frog!).
Raglan Sleeve Topper
Raglan Sleeve Topper
Raglan Sleeve Topper
Raglan Sleeve Topper
The Raglan Sleeve Topper on the far left is knit in the Natural shade of Fishermen’s Wool, a nice off-white color that truly enhances the stitch definition of this pattern.  The Raglan Sleeve Topper on the right is knit in the same pattern, but has a different look to it because it was knit in the self-striping Amazing.  In Amazing, the Topper has more of a fun, attention grabbing feel to it, while the Topper in Fishermen’s Wool provides a more classic, timeless look to the piece.
Zig Zag Pillow
Zig Zag Pillow
Herringbone Stitch Pillow
Herringbone Stitch Pillow
These pillows are a great example of how color and texture affect a stitch pattern.  The Zig Zag pillow was crocheted with Homespun, a bouclé yarn with subtle painterly effects.  The stitch pattern itself creates the zig zag effect while the bouclé style adds more texture.  The Herringbone Stitch Pillow to the right was knit in the Linen color of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick; a great yarn to showcase this particular stitch because its bulkiness adds more texture, and the light color helps make the stitches pop.
Cushy Knit Cowl
Cushy Knit Cowl
Stockinette Cowl
Stockinette Cowl
Both cowls are knit in the stockinette stitch, but have very different looks because of the yarn.  The Cushy Knit Cowl was knit in Luxe Fur, a cat. 6 super bulky yarn, while the Stockinette Cowl was knit in Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Extra Soft Wool Blend, a cat. 4 worsted weight yarn.  The Extra Soft Wool Blend provides more drape, and the individual stitches stand out more than the stitches on the Cushy Knit Cowl.  The cowl in Luxe Fur makes you think more about the functionality of the piece, as opposed to the aesthetics of the stitch-work; you’re more likely to wear it on a cold winter day.

What techniques do you use to enhance your projects? Textured yarns with simple stitches, light weight yarns for complicated stitches, a little bit of both? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

How to Crochet a Button

February 7th, 2012

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One of my favorite parts of yarncrafting is selecting the perfect button, but sometimes I just can’t find one that matches. The perfect solution is to crochet your own buttons! All you need is a small amount of yarn, a crochet hook (the yarn’s recommended size or smaller for a tighter button), and a blunt-eyed needle. Here’s how to do it.

How to Crochet a Button

Step 1: Make a slipknot and chain 2.
Step 2: Work 6 single crochet in 2nd chain from hook. Join with slip stitch in first single crochet. (6 stitches total.)
Step 3: Chain 1. Work 2 single crochets in each stitch around. Join with slip stitch in first single crochet. (12 stitches total.)
Step 4: Chain 1. Single crochet 2 together 6 times. Join with slip stitch in first single crochet. (6 stitches total.
Step 5: Weave tail through remaining stitches. Flatten button slightly and stitch through all thicknesses to secure.

With those easy steps, you’ll be able to crochet buttons that will always match your finished projects. Happy crocheting!

6 Man-Friendly Scarf Patterns

February 6th, 2012

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With Valentine’s Day only a week away, you might be thinking about fast, last-minute patterns you can knit or crochet for someone you love.

If you’re knitting or crocheting for a man, I think it’s important to make something that he’s really going to wear. That means selecting yarns that are easy-care, colors that match his wardrobe, and classic styles and textures. Make the project something he’ll really use day to day and be able to take care of. Here are 6 projects that I think fit the bill, but we’ve got plenty more on our site (plus hats, gloves, and more).


Knit Basic Scarf

This classic stockinette stitch scarf with garter stitch border gets its interest from the heathered color of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Woodsy and natural, it’s adds a touch of quiet interest to this understated scarf. Plus the super bulky yarn will help you finish this project in no time flat.

Loom Woven Houndstooth Check Scarf 

A classic pattern that’s experiencing a come-back, I love houndstooth’s rich, dapper feel. For the stylish man in your life, consider this quick-to-weave project made on our Knit & Weave Loom Kit.

Knit Varsity Stripe Hat & Scarf 

You can’t go wrong with a classic striped hat & scarf set. Make it in his favorite team’s colors or his school colors. With such a big color palette in Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Choice Baby, you can mix and match to get just the shades you’re looking for.

Crochet Easy-Wear Scarf 

Make him staple that will never go out of style: a classic ribbed scarf that can be wrapped twice for those windy days. It’s also fast-to-crochet in bulky, machine-washable Vanna’s Colors.

Knit Harbor Scarf
For a little added interest, consider a timeless stitch in a smaller scale. These cables add a wonderful honeycomb texture to the scarf, but when combined with the simplicity of the classic off-white yarn, the whole look is still masculine.
Crochet Hometown Scarf

By holding two strands of solid color yarn together, you can create a tweedy look. Use colors that match his wardrobe, or for a more subtle look, select different shades of the same color.

Do you have a favorite pattern for the men in your life? Tell us about it in the comments!

12 Tips on How to Organize Your Yarn Stash

February 2nd, 2012

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Organize Your YarnWhen you’re a crafter, loving yarn is easy, but keeping it organized can be a challenge. Keeping an organized stash will help you know what you have, find what you need, and make projects you love. Whether you’re a beginner learning how to keep you new yarn tidy, or an experienced crafter with a stash that feel like it’s out of control, these 12 tips will help you organize your yarn and focus on the fun part: making beautiful projects!

  1. Take stock of what you have.
    One easy way to sort your yarn is to label 4 boxes; “WIPs (works in progress),” “Will Use/Have Pattern,” “Will Use/No Pattern Yet,” and “Won’t Use.” Take the opportunity to look at the yarn you have and decide how much you have room for.
  2. Separate your projects from your supplies.
    Keep “WIPs” in easy reach and separated from the rest of your stash. If your projects are hard to get to, or hiding under the rest of your stash, you’re less likely to work on them. A storage ottoman, large project bag or basket works well to store WIPs.
  3. Put your yarn where you can see it.
    Keep all your “Will Use” yarn easy to access. Think creatively about where to put yarn, you can use many things besides plastic boxes or bags. Just remember to keep yarn away from pets, moisture and dust.
  4. Discover or create a storage method you love.
    If you’re looking at those beautiful skeins for inspiration, keep yarn visible in clear vases and decorative bowls. You can transform a door by adding a shoe organizer filled with yarn, or re-purpose containers you already have! For inspiration, follow our Pinterest Board: Craft Spaces & Storage (you may be asked to sign into Pinterest).
  5. Choose an organization option; sort yarn by weight, fiber or color.
    Keeping your yarn in groups will help you find what you need once you’ve picked a project. Choose whichever appeals to you the most!
  6. Use your Ravelry ‘Stash’ to save yarn info.
    Photograph your newly-sorted yarn and post it to your stash on Ravelry. From there, you can easily compare what you have, search for patterns of what to make, and keep the details like dye lot and yardage in one convenient location. Plus, you don’t have to worry about saving all your labels!
  7. Convert messy skeins or hanks to balls.
    Balling-up yarn is a great way to tidy up hanks and skeins that have begun to loose their structure, and it makes the yarn easy to use when the time comes.
  8. Store multiple balls of a dye lot together.
    If you bought multiple skeins in the same dye lot, or dyed multiple hanks in the same bath, keep those yarns together. It’s much easier to make a large project when you have all the yarn together. Gallon-sized zip-top bags are a great option.
  9. Keep projects to frog handy.
    If you have been meaning to frog (or undo) a project, keep it on hand for at-home activities that don’t require full attention, like watching TV.
  10. Protect yarn from water, dust and creepy-crawlies.
    There are some bugs that might try to live in your yarn, so keep it up off the floor, dry, and in a well-lit place to discourage them. If you think there might have been insects near your yarn, seal it in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for a day to get rid of bugs.
  11. Put tiny scraps in one location.
    When you need “waste” yarn, or an amigurumi needs an embroidered face, you’ll be glad you know exactly where to find small scraps in your stash.
  12. Don’t be afraid to let go of extra yarn.
    Yarn you don’t love just takes up space and makes it harder to find the yarn that you do love. Donate or swap anything in the “Won’t Use” box, and you’ll be helping others as well as yourself.

What tips would you add to this list? Have you used any of these? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

Valentine’s Day Patterns for the Men, Women and Children in Your Life

February 1st, 2012

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Valentine’s Day is near, and I’m sure many of you have begun your festive crafting already (or are ready to start crafting!).  I love gifts that have a seasonal tone, but can be used throughout the year; so I provided some patterns for gifts that are in the traditional Valentine’s Day colors, but can be used long after the celebration.

Necktie  Knit Necktie

Give your guy a simple handmade gift he can wear to showcase your talents and love for him.  He’ll feel special that the tie was knit just for him; as a sidenote, his coworkers and friends might commission you to make one for them too!  If you have time, you can whip some up for your father and/or sons as well.

*Please note* This tie was knit in Lion Cashmere Blend, a DISCONTINUED yarn.  Make sure you review this list for yarn substitutions. 

Sockies Sockies

These Sockies are great for lounging at home, or for extra cushioning in your boots.  Knit in the “Mixed Berries” color of Tweed Stripes, the recipient will be sure to remember they received this as a Valentine’s day gift.  This is another great gift for a guy, which can also be paired with the neck tie!

Crochet Pink Ruffle Scarf  Pink Ruffle Scarf

I love the idea of double stranding two different yarns for a new effect.  This scarf was crocheted using Vanna’s Choice as a solid, and Vanna’s Glamour for the shimmer.  Since Vanna’s Glamour is a fine weight, and Vanna’s Choice is a worsted weight, double stranding the two together doesn’t make the scarf too bulky or heavy.  The shimmer in the scarf adds a fun, yet stylish element to the overall look.

Valentine Envelopes Valentine Envelope

Send your Valentine a love note in a sweetly crocheted envelope.  Or, you can make a couple of these with a heartfelt message and hand them out to friends, family and more.  The envelope itself can be reused to store other little keepsakes and momentos.  This is a great idea for crafting with children; crochet together with your child, and they can give a few Valentine’s Day notes to their friends.

Ruby Slippers Ruby Slippers

Is your baby celebrating her first Valentine’s Day? These mini ruby slipper booties are sure to make your little one the star of the party wherever you’re headed. Her tiny feet will twinkle brightly in this pair knit in Vanna’s Glamour.

Amigurumi Heartfelt Bunny Amigurumi Heartfelt Bunny

Amigurumi are cute gifts that can be given to your friends, children, even your child’s favorite teacher.  This precious little bunny would also make a nice gift for a baby born in February.  This bunny was crocheted in Vanna’s Choice, providing you many color options to mix and match with.

Have you started any crafting for Valentine’s Day? If so, what type of gifts do you like to give? Share with us in the comments.